Monday, May 18, 2020

Thoughts on "Babylon"

Last week, there was an article that rumored Meryl was being courted for a supporting role in Damien Chazelle's upcoming drama Babylon. We need to make sure to take this with a grain of salt, as seven days later, I've seen no additional sources confirming that Meryl has even been approached, much less accepted the offer to play Elinor Glyn.

I managed to score a copy of the scrip. At 184 pages, the version I read is long! From what I understand, however, Chazelle had been asked to cut up to thirty pages to make it more palatable to distributors. I'm guessing the script I read is pre-trim.

Obviously I cared most about getting a sense of Meryl's potential role. I'll say form the outset that it's not a huge part in terms of scenes. But she's present regularly throughout the story, not like it's only one big scene or she's only around in one half of the picture. Her character would be a little quirky, would have an accent, a racist edge, and sort of be the one who knows more than most people in the movie about what's really going on with everybody. She would have one pretty dramatic exchange with Brad Pitt's character toward the end, where she basically shuts him down and offers a sort of philosophical insight on filmmaking after he gets angry for an unflattering column she runs on him. If Meryl does indeed accept this role (again, assuming she's offered it), it's certainly not going to be because it's a huge acting vehicle for her. But she's taken some smaller roles for projects she wanted to be a part of in recent years: Suffragette, Little Women, Mary Poppins Returns, The Giver. And among these mentioned, I'd say Elinor Glyn is comparable in size to her role in The Giver (maybe a little bigger), but is MUCH more interesting. Plus I'd expect Babylon to be a far superior film.

Now to the script itself. It is absolutely a story I'd like to see get made. It depicts Hollywood's often seedy underbelly during the transition from silent films to talkies. One thing that does give me pause about Meryl's participation in it is how explicit it is. I do wonder though if some of the cutting Chazelle does or did would be to tone down some of the overt sexual depictions (we're talking orgies, dildos, pissing, anal). Unless they want an NC-17 rating (which would likely strongly hinder box office chances) some of those scenes will have to be cut or at least softened somehow. There is also a LOT of drug use, some gory violence, and every other word is pretty much "fuck." Reading it, it sort of felt like a whirlwind cross between something I'd see from Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. Regardless, I enjoyed it.

On the plus side, the cast would be rather diverse, and Hollywood tends to love movies about itself. With its "proposed" release date of Christmas 2021, you know they're shooting for that prime Oscar slot.

I, for one, would love to see Meryl in something like this.

2 comments:

  1. Wow - lucky you to get access to the script! Makes for a thrilling post to read!

    The boldness of the script you describe is something I would like to see Meryl do, but struggle to see her accepting, she does tend towards "socially-minded" pictures. That said, if it's been softened, I hope she is offered and accepts!

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